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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's media watchdog will investigate an anti-Japan television serial that viewers have criticized as vulgar for a scene showing a woman making use of a grenade concealed in her crotch to kill Japanese soldiers, state media said on Thursday.
Ties between the neighbors have been shadowed for years by what Beijing calls Japan's refusal to admit to wartime atrocities by its soldiers in China between 1937 and 1945.
These accounts are taught to every Chinese schoolchild and form a staple of television dramas.
The 58-episode show featuring the offending scene is called "Fight the Devils Together", and started airing on May 7, but broadcasts have since halted, state news agency Xinhua said.
"There are problems in the scene," Xinhua quoted an unnamed official from the watchdog's office in the eastern province of Shandong, the location of one of the television companies co-producing the show, as saying.
Authorities are reviewing the show, and will handle the matter according to the law, the official added.
Telephone calls by Reuters to seek comment from the media watchdog, the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), went unanswered on Thursday.
In the scene, a woman visits her boyfriend, a Communist seized by Japanese soldiers, in jail, according to the Global Times, a tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily.
He puts his hand under her dress to find a grenade, which she then detonates, killing everyone in the cell.
It was not immediately clear how many viewers the serial attracted or when the offending scene was broadcast.
The show's other co-producer was based in the capital, Beijing, Xinhua said.
Diplomatic ties between China and Japan have been strained in recent years by territorial rows and mutual mistrust over Japan's bolder security policies and China's military assertiveness.
China plans a military parade in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
In 2013, China's television regulator ordered a crackdown on dramas featuring the country's battles with Japan during and before World War Two, demanding more serious treatment of these events, after viewers complained about ludicrous storylines.
On social media, Chinese viewers have castigated the outlandish plots of anti-Japan dramas, including one that portrayed heroic Chinese as splitting Japanese soldiers in half with their hands.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez